Category Archives: Psychology

Why this shape?

why_this_shape?As part of a brief critique of The Magic Mountain proposal, someone asked where the shape of the towers came from (see previous entry for sketch). I am making a small field of these welded steel towers. In the moment I stumbled over my words, trying to connect disparate thoughts. But these are all possible answers to the question “Why this shape?”:

1) I drew it in a previous sketch (…but where did that come from?) To be more clear, I changed the design a bit. The original had a square-shaped top but I found that the triangle was easier to balance, being on a 3-rod structure vs. 4. This is the pragmatic answer.

2) It’s connected to childhood memories of staring out the window in car-rides at dusk through Stark County. The Ohio terrain is long and flat except for the tall transmission towers…This is the psychoanalytic answer.

3) Mountainous Banff, Alberta, Canada. This is a place I lived and a place I don’t go a day without thinking about. Despite personal hell I still remember it as ideal. The Banff Centre=fundamentally transformative. This is the nostalgic answer.

4)  It reminds me of The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.  Modern in feel, a retreat in the mountains, time stretched out. All things that converge in my piece. This is the literary answer.

5)  And the blue glow that these towers will emit? That comes from the enjoyment I get out of seeing a glowing tv screen through a living room window. This is the voyeuristic answer.

blue glowing tv

How far back do you go looking for an explanation (“why this shape”)? If you don’t believe in free will (which I don’t) you hit a wall. I did not will myself to like radio towers, mountains, and glowing tv’s. These things just happen to intersect in my brain. I cannot take credit for my success or failure with this project; it’s really luck in the end if this thing does work out.

If this sounds like a depressing, hopeless way of looking at things, it is. In his book Free Will, Sam Harris makes a strong case that free will is merely an illusion. This book has stuck in my craw (in a good way?) since August 2012. Unfortunately I don’t think the consolatory section at the end ameliorates the angst bound to emerge while reading it. Thank god for art!

I see a tiny sliver of positivity in our lack of free will on my teaching blog.

Ohio Art League

Three things:

1) November 18th is our annual fundraiser, One Night. It’s at the Ohioana Library in a room as big as an airplane hangar. Art for sale (including altered books), cocktails, good music, a live auction…and only $25.

2) We are in the middle of our membership drive. New members (and members lapsed 1 yr +) will receive a free badass t-shirt. Reasons to join: 1) You are an artist or student looking for access to exhibition opportunities, workshops, networking. 2) You are an art enthusiast building your collection and looking for ways to connect with local artists. 3) Because it’s fun.

3) Artist members have the opportunity to exhibit in our gallery in the South Campus Gateway. This month we are featuring artists Jeremy Stone and Scott Neal. It’s difficult to describe their work. Jeremy creates prints; Scott has made sculptures that are carved out of the wall. Both deal with the brain’s ability to process the visual by ‘filling in the blanks’ with information from the past. Go see for yourself.

Psychoacoustics in the NY Times

Sound, the Way the Brain Prefers to Hear It. Compelling. However, I’m disappointed that the article didn’t even briefly touch on the further difficulty of recreating the experience of listening to music in a live hall vs. your living room, outside of sound. The physical presence of people/chemistry of being in a group setting. The lighting. The architecture of the hall. The musical nuances. Seeing the conductor & the performers. Etc. Guess that would be a long article.

Art al Fresco Preparations

The outdoor art event Art al Fresco takes place September 10th, 2011 from noon-10 pm throughout the Short North in Columbus, Ohio. I truly love the energy and the opportunity for artists to do site-specific works amongst businesses.

My installation will be in the old Burgundy Room window at Russell & High. The project is a sound map of an urban intersection, made of vellum paper modules and LED lights (to represent noise).  I’m curious to discover what other people perceive as ‘noise’ in an urban setting.  Human perception of sound and light, visual representation of data, and art as an experience fascinate me.

This is awkward.
That’s what I thought anyways when I approached strangers on the street to ask them to participate in my survey. On the September 3rd Gallery Hop in the Short North, I stood at the corner of Buttles and High to gather data. I asked people to write down the sounds they heard over a 10 second period, then mark a box if they considered it to be “noise” (undesirable signal).

I surveyed 25 people and received well over 100 responses. A couple of my own personal biases for approaching people: avoiding people with Jeni’s ice cream or other things in their hands (difficulty writing); avoiding groups of 5 or more (I only had 2 clipboards); since the OSU Buckeye game let out, I didn’t want an artificial Buckeye-fan bent so I minimally surveyed people in scarlet & grey.

Hope you can stop by to see the finished work on September 10th.